a person sitting at a table

How things were

The roar of the crowd in the stadium celebrating a goal; Fans screaming ecstatically at a virtuoso performer’s amazing concert; The audience’s smiles of delight as the characters come to life at a Broadway show. We all know the power of experiences like these that are built on the energy of groups and shared locations—stadiums, theatres, concert halls, convention centers, meeting rooms, even classrooms—and their power to transform us in the moment and beyond, whether we are at work or in our personal lives. Real-time events collectively attended are the apex of entertainment, shared collaboration, and engagement. These experiences delight us, inform us, and become part of us. We are made even better because we are active participants in them. This expands and deepens bonds between participants and brands.

COVID-19 catalyzes the remote normal

We now know that pandemics change everything. Our unique ability to adapt is tested to the limit as the business and personal landscape literally changes and shifts day-to-day. Digital is the new normal and remote work and life is now fully standard operating procedure (SOP). Remote normal will transform entertainment events too. Content creation—an entire pipeline from camera to screen—has become virtual, supported by cloud technologies at scale.

At Microsoft, we and our partners are hard at work to deliver better technologies and tools to bring the true power of both shared experiences to geographically diverse audiences and participants and content creators at a massive scale. We are creating platforms for a new world where powerful shared experiences and collaboration by groups of all sizes, spread across locations and time zones, will be the norm. In entertainment, creative work will require constant collaboration to achieve great things, despite our having or wanting to be geographically disbursed. Together and close, yet physically afar. Microsoft’s vision here is clear: we provide cloud platforms and solutions, networks, and edge technologies that close this gap of making remote simply normal.

Intelligent, immersive media and collaboration partnerships

More powerful, shared experiences and collaboration opportunities at-scale for global participants demand technologies and software approaches that can deliver dazzling experiences for users and scalable performance from the core to the edge of the network. Whether producing and delivering a shared live concert experience with thousands of participants across the globe, or conducting an important content editing or post-production review with multiple offices including real-time 4K video or renderings, Microsoft’s intelligent media and entertainment framework brings the power of shared and the power of the cloud to any high-fidelity user end-point, from a smartphone, to large screen, to even more immersive AR/VR/XR, and gaming environments.

“The Microsoft media and entertainment technologies are focused on supporting all parts of the content creation pipeline, with the efficiency, scalability, security and compliance from Azure, Microsoft Dynamics, and Microsoft Teams,” Hanno Basse, CTO of Media and Entertainment in Azure.

The success key: partnering

Through deep partnering with content creators and solution partners, we can deliver highly efficient cloud-based solutions that empower shared experiences and collaboration. These workloads are powered by the acceleration of content creation, modernized collaboration, and optimized content delivery. Companies such as Technicolor and AVID have partnered with Microsoft to develop cloud solutions that are powering broadcasters and studios mission-critical content editing and delivery workflows, with and for COVID-19-safe distributed teams. These new solutions and approaches enabled by Microsoft’s Azure technology are highly efficient and also create powerful engagement, CRM, and data-analytic capabilities, opening up significant monetization opportunities.

The remote normal is opportunity

With the new remote normal, we have an incredible opportunity to design and deliver the most engaging real-time, distributed entertainment and collaboration experiences the world has ever seen. Microsoft is passionate about helping brands create new, more powerful, high-fidelity collaborative experiences. With all the creative and commercial possibilities this new opportunity space holds, we hope that bringing a global digital audience together in real-time will do amazing things. From deeper brand engagement to increased viewer and fan interactivity. With AVID, we are redefining remote normal for news organizations globally. Journalists are now able to capture and deliver content into the virtual editing suite and control room to immediately publish to broadcast.

In recent discussions, Raymond Thomson, Director of Market Solutions, Broadcast and Media, said:

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer demand for content delivered on any device on their time presented economic and operational challenges that rippled throughout the production pipeline. Once the pandemic hit, it only exacerbated the need for media companies to adjust quickly to remote workflows. What we have found, especially with our SaaS and more custom cloud-based implementations, is that enabling remote workflows is not only possible, but the experience is very good, even if you don’t have a high bandwidth connection. This is a testament to the considerable amount of work that Avid and Microsoft have done together to integrate the NEXIS file system into the Azure BLOB storage stack which has served as the foundation for Edit On Demand and asset management offerings currently driving production today for news, sports, and post-production companies.”

With Remote post-production, Technicolor is able to use the power of the Cloud to create and deliver more creative output for its customers, while leveraging their global teams to collaborate effectively.

In a recent interview with Brady Woods, Vice President, Production Services, Global Business Development at Technicolor, she shared the following:

“Post COVID-19, we see there will definitely be more reliance on cutting-edge technology in production and post-production than ever before. We will need innovations and remote workflows in the cloud to sustain the creative filmmaking process as well as maintain the quality of content audiences have come to expect. Remote artist collaboration in parallel with normalizing a production infrastructure in the cloud has been a key focus of Technicolor for years. And now with COVID-19, we have seen an expedited interest from content creators to shift legacy processes and adopt new technology.

For us, innovations in these collaborative workflows have to start with moving the content shot on set to the cloud and then making that content available to teams remotely. We have seen that as remote workflows have now become a necessity, the industry understands more than ever before the need for centralized content management.

By utilizing cloud tools like Technicolor’s PULSE as a software solution, we are able to share production content and data through the pipeline remotely allowing us to keep VFX work flowing and allow our productions as well as our internal teams self-manageable access to all the high-resolution camera files shot on set.

Tools like this allow us to store production content once in the cloud and then bring applications to the cloud that make that data useable in a collaborative way, which from our perspective is an essential improvement to all productions’ pipelines.”

Learn more about intelligent media and entertainment to see how our AI-powered solutions have empowered creativity, streamlined workflows, and deepened audience engagement for the likes of Mr. X, Dentsu Aegis Network, the BBC, Real Madrid, and Thomson Reuters.